Light, Compatible, Free Online 3D Globe

April 13, 2008 - 10:07:36 PM

Reviewed By Brady Forrest at O'Reilly Radar

Poly9 has released a new free 3D globe called Free Earth. It uses Flash, but requires no other download and cross-browser. That spinning blue marble is really sweet looking.

Using their Javascript API you can add placemarks (as you can see below with the tarsier marking the O'Reilly offices), video, and control the globe's movement.
Right now there is no zoom, but they are in the process of getting satellite imagery. According to CEO Greg Sadetsky, "The plan is to have a licensable product for commercial use, and a free product for everybody."

Poly9 is a group of hackers in Quebec City. They have created a lot of great mapping and telephony projects over the years including ASCII Maps, NORAD Tracks Santa, and JabPhone (IM to phone via Jabber).

Free Earth is getting their data from PlaceBase's geodata marketplace Pushpin. Pushpin has data from Claritas, ESRI, Navteq and the US Census. PlaceBase has also been working with smaller sites (such as DeadCellZones) to showcase their custom tile work. PlaceBase is a small startup based in Los Angeles.

The liberal APIs of Google, Yahoo, Mapquest, and Microsoft have whet the appetites of websites for maps. As sites start to rely on the geo aspect of their business more they are going to want their own style of maps and not give branding to one of the larger mapping companies. Startups like Placebase, Poly9, and deCarta are gearing themselves up to take advantage of this coming trend by offering custom maps, geo applications, and data marketplaces.

Both Poly9 and deCarta will be at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose at the end of the month. Some of the startups in our Launchpad are also going after this business trend.

  • Features
    • Cross-browser
    • Cross-platform
    • Application size: 303k
    • Pushpins, polylines, labels overlays
    • Comprehensive satellite imagery
    • Elevation visualization
    • High resolution imagery for U.S. metropolitan areas
    • Custom image overlays
    • Mouse controls
    • WMS
    • JavaScript API
    • Embeddable videos
    • GeoRSS
    • Mapstraction compatibility
    • Solar system planets

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